ArtPop Billboards Going Up Around the City
Columbus has started to have billboards covered in art popping up around the city. A collaboration between outdoor billboard company Lamar and the Greater Columbus Arts Council under their Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art campaign has resulted in the work of five local artists being showcased on the large scale platforms for the first annual ArtPop Street Gallery.
Thirty-three artists applied. The five artists selected include: David Butler, Stephanie Rond, Cody F. Miller, Kate Morgan, and Carol Stewart.
“It is the first year for Columbus to be a part of the program,” says Jami Goldstein, Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Events of GCAC. Goldstein was happy to share that Columbus is the first city participating in the ArtPop Street Gallery to offer an honorarium to each artist. They will each receive $500 as well as a mini-replica of their work on a billboard.
Wendy Hickey, Founder & Executive Director of ArtPop, approached Goldstein about the project while discussing overall marketing for the Columbus Makes Art program.
“She asked if we had heard about it and I thought it was a great idea,” says Goldstein. The ArtPop Street Gallery selections will move around to utilize available billboard space throughout Franklin County and will be in rotation for about a year; until the next set of works are chosen.
“When considering which of the submissions would be selected for this project, we had to consider the medium,” says Goldstein. “People only see billboards for a few seconds. We looked for art that was colorful, easy to digest, and would stand out.”
While two artists featured in the Columbus Makes Art program were selected for the ArtPop Street Gallery, being a featured artist was not a requirement. Like the Columbus Makes Art program, the ArtPop Street Gallery aims to be representative of the diversity of the artists in our community, taking into account age, gender, race, artist discipline, and more.
“Journeys in Black Love” shares themes of love David Butler saw during childhood.
“The topic of this piece is the narrative of love of one couple in the sunny, deep, new love space and another couple in a harder, intimate space – one of uncertainty and separation.”
Butler focuses his art on telling the stories of his experiences and starting conversations around topics the community can understand.
“My hope is that people appreciate the work and are willing to investigate the work I do more in depth in the future,” he says. He entered the ArtPop Street Gallery contest because of the idea of making art more accessible to all communities, especially to “folks of color who normally don’t access the gallery spaces Columbus has to offer.”
“It’s cool to see one’s work on such a large scale,” says Butler. “I saw a similar project in Philadephia by photographer Zoe Strauss and always told myself if I ever get a shot to put work on a billboard I would do it. As a Black Creative, I believe I have a responsibility to make sure folks that look like me are seen within contemporary arts spaces. This project allowed me to achieve all of those goals.”
“I love ArtPop’s mission of promoting local artists work through available billboards,” says Cody Miller. “It’s a wonderful way to give artists a voice in the community.”
Miller’s painting is titled “The third times a charm”. The idea of seeing his work on such a large scale got him excited to enter the contest.
“That cattywampus wing makes me smile and I’d love the image to loosen out a smile or two on the first take for others,” he says. “On further inspection I hope the viewer can make the connection that this person is actually trying to fly with a bunch of junk and that it’s okay to take risks for something that makes you truly come alive, however ridiculous it may appear.”
Kate Morgan’s piece “Loma” is a combination of drawing, painting, and collage.
“I submitted to ArtPop so that people can experience art in an unexpected place,” she says. “I think it’s amazing that people just living their lives, rushing around, might be reminded when they see an ArtPop sign that they used to enjoy things like going to museums and galleries, and then go again or more often.”
She hopes that those seeing her piece will remember that art is a place where everyone may have an opinion and that disagreements on what the art conveys is allowed and appreciated.
“Asking questions, looking at materials differently, seeing how someone else sees something – are these not valuable life skills?” she asks. “Or is it just art? I want people to feel good about wanting to know more.”
Stephanie Rond entered because she liked the challenge of creating a piece that was “long and skinny, yet so huge at the same time.” “Shine a Light” takes into consideration that some people may only see it for a few seconds at a time, and some may also see it every day.
“I wanted to tell a story that allows the viewer to find something new in the piece each time they look at it,” she says. “I hope that people will consider the value in the arts in our everyday lives. With the current threats to funding, I hope that more people will pick up the torch to fight for our collective creative voice.”
“I applied on a whim,” says Carol Stewart. “I thought still life painting would be too conservative for the project, but I thought it looked like a wonderful project to be a part of.”
Stewart was thrilled to find out her work “Two Clementine” had been accepted.
“I hope seeing this painting on a billboard will brighten someone’s day,” she says. “Lots of people don’t have time to make it to galleries and having this project get art into everyone’s every day life is really special. I hope it sparks conversations.”
The ArtPop Street Gallery project was conceived to promote local artists’ work and make is accessible to communities through available media space. It allows artists 18 years of age and older who are interested in becoming full-time artists, or those who are interested in growing their careers to enter. It currently has displays in eleven cities throughout seven states in the United States. In mid-April, that number will grow to fourteen to include Columbus, Charleston, and Nashville. The application for 2018 submissions will open in January of 2018.
For more information, visit columbusmakesart.com/artpop.